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Before you install a SATA hard drive, be sure you have the right cables and slots available on your motherboard. Here's what you need to know.
Ready to upgrade your hard drive and found you're dealing with a SATA connector? SATA drives are easy to set up, support hot swapping, and the interface is reasonably fast. We'll show you everything you need to know about installing a SATA drive, and how to connect the power and data cable.
Consider your use case: If you need a large amount of storage at an affordable price and don't plan on using it as an everyday drive running your operating system, i.e. it doesn't need to be ultra-fast, then a regular HDD drive is the right choice. In that case, you'll want a connection compatible with your motherboard, most likely SATA connector. If you're looking for the fastest possible drive and neither price nor storage capacity are an issue, consider an SSD and check whether your computer has a PCIe slot.
Note that SATA SSDs are only available in the smaller 2.5" form factor. In addition to non-ultrabook laptops, that also makes them ideal as external drives.
2. SATA DATA and Power Connectors
This article assumes you have a modern motherboard that no longer has IDE connectors. IDE drives haven't featured in consumer computers for some time. The overwhelming majority of computers and motherboards sold in recent years will focus solely on SATA drives (with a few exceptions, of course). Let's familiarize ourselves with the SATA 7P connector and port.
The left connector is for data (typically a red cable), while the second powers your drive. It is possible to buy an all-in-one, 22-pin SATA 15P cable that combines both connectors (but is less flexible).
A reader notes that you should "never use the Molex (4-pin) to SATA power adapter" because "most hard drives and solid state drives require the orange 3.3V wire to board to supply power for the drive electronics." This may cause the drives to fail at spinning up or registering in the computer's BIOS, Device Manager, or Disk Management. Thank you for the heads-up, Doc!
Consequently, some modern HDDs have done away with 4-pin Molex power inputs and now offer just a SATA power input. A SATA SSD will arrive with only a SATA power connector and a data transmission cable.